As I followed the events of the Boston Marathon online yesterday, I became gravely concerned about what might have been damaged that is unique to the sport of running. I wondered about the basis of the deep emotions of sadness and despair that I was experiencing. Feelings beneath my sorrow and grief for the people affected by the explosions at the finish line and the residents of Boston. Something more. Something deeper and more profound.
Boston Marathon Runners
I think it’s a fear of losing the simple goodness and life-affirming nature of running and road racing. Running is an inclusive sport…perhaps the only truly inclusive sport for the participants and the spectators. Ordinary people (like me) compete along with the elite athletes of the world – same course, same day, same rules, same opportunity. Anyone and everyone can participate – big or small, old or young, able-bodied or in a wheel chair, sighted or not. People from around the world gather together to share the experience of running – some to win and many of us just for the sake of completing the race or to improve our finishing time. Words of encouragement and good-natured jokes are commonly heard among runners as everyone supports each other to do their best. If a runner stops on the sidelines, inevitably someone will pause to see if s/he is ok. If your shoelace is untied, someone will let you know.
And a running race wouldn’t be complete without the spectators. They are such an important and appreciated aspect of the race. Their presence, support and enthusiasm have an incredible positive impact with the ability shift a runner’s energy with a smile and a cheer. I recall many wonderful spectator moments at races.
Running races and especially marathons, demonstrate human nature at it’s best. Caring, kindness and camaraderie along with competition are the cornerstones of the running community.
Boston Marathon Start 2011
And when it comes to marathons there is nothing quite like Boston. The spectators are exceptional, lining the streets over the entire 26.2 miles. The B.A.A. makes every participant feel like a gold medal winner. Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon represents so much more than running 26.2 miles. It stands for hours of training, overcoming injuries and self-doubt, developing stamina, resiliency and self-confidence. It means having the opportunity run in the world’s most prestigious race and for most marathoners – the pinnacle of running. I ran Boston in 2011. It was my 16th marathon. It took me 15 previous marathons to finally qualify. Finishing was a moment I will always remember because an ordinary person like me was able to run it.
Thousands of marathoners were robbed of this moment yesterday. The residents of Boston were robbed of the pure pleasure of hosting a global event of human goodness and accomplishment. And sadly the wonderfully supportive spectators were the ones most injured.
While Boston and its Marathon may have been tarnished yesterday, the spirit and tenacity of the running community will persevere, perhaps stronger than ever. It’s the nature of who we are as runners and this inclusive sport of running.
Like many others I suspect, the first thing I did today was head out for a run wearing my Boston running shirt and cap. I will be back Boston to run your amazing marathon once again. I just hope it doesn’t take me so long to qualify this time! Wish me luck in Philly in November.
During my corporate career I gave my all to my job and eventually I crashed, totally exhausted – not once, but twice. While knowing that there had to be more to life, I didn’t know how to figure it out. Besides, I thought I had it all – great job, great salary, lots of perks, interesting travel, opportunity to move around in the company. What more could I want? I remember carrying a picture in my notebook of a woman with a child in her arm, cell phone to her ear, briefcase in hand trying to close the car door in the middle of a busy urban area. I thought this picture represented the ultimate! Especially for women. I aspired to be this woman!
Well eventually I left that crazy world, and for what exactly I didn’t know at the time. Over the last 10 years I’ve been on a journey of discovery getting to know me better, seeking to understand what makes people tick and how to live a richly rewarding life from the inside out.
What has excited me the most on this journey has been the realization that it is possible to have big dreams, work hard, accomplish challenging goals and be grounded, grateful and content. There are skills, tools and practices we can learn and incorporate into our lives so at the end of a day full of activities, we are full inside too – feeling positive, energized and ready for more.
This is why I created Zone-In Renewal.
I want to share what I’ve learned. I want to help people find that inner sense of balance, purpose and meaning to help them navigate the chaos life naturally brings our way. To be able to Zone-In to what matters and choose consciously rather than operate on autopilot.
I listen to friends and colleagues talk about their daily demands and how weary they are – not just from lack of sleep but a deep inner tired that drains their energy and zaps any enthusiasm to even engage in activities that they used to enjoy.
Whether at an individual level, on a team or in an organization, the skills, tools and practices are basically the same. And few of us are taught how to do it. We live in a society that goes non-stop and we try to keep going at that 24/7 pace. Our self worth is measured by how in demand we are through email, texting and social media. We clutch our smart phones like a badge of honor. Or a lifeline.
During workshops when I’ve asked people to leave their phones on the table and take a 15 minute walk for silent reflection, I witness fear on their faces. People don’t know how to just be with themselves. Being disconnected from technology literally frightens people and yet the impact of being disconnected from themselves does not register. It’s below their radar.
Zone-In Renewal is the culmination of all I’ve learned through formal education, working with clients and life experience. It is a model that provides a structure you can use and includes personal capacity building to sustain the learning.
Zone-In Renewal is intended for those of you that:
- Are feeling lost and want to establish a sense of direction in your life with greater meaning and fulfillment
- Want to initiate change and need some tools and strategies to help you … along with a gentle boot in the behind
- Want to feel more energized and ready to deal with whatever life brings you
- Are just tired and bored and are tired of feeling tired and bored.
This program can be designed to meet your needs. Some people prefer working in groups, thinking and sharing out loud in conversation. Others prefer working one-on-one with more time for personal reflection and focused learning. Let me know what your preferences are and we’ll co-create it.
When I was in a corporate marketing role, I was involved in a lot of strategic planning. I learned that it’s rare for people to successfully manage the process and make decisions about the content. When in discussions about strategic priorities and direction, it’s easy to get caught up in the current crisis or day-to-day activities and then run out of time for the actual strategic level conversation. People get stuck in their perspective and the conversation becomes one of who is right versus what’s best. Having an objective outsider to lead the process allows the participants to fully engage in the discussions, stay focused and move through the various stages more efficiently and with better results.
And strategic planning is the perfect opportunity for team development. The two go hand-in-hand. While deciding what’s important to do, consider incorporating skill building for how to do it well together. It’s natural to have differences of opinion as people bring their diverse experiences and ideas into the planning process. What better time to learn good collaboration and problem solving skills and make agreements about how to deal with conflict. Team members can get clear on roles, responsibilities and accountability – three of the biggest challenges that boards face.
Which brings us full circle. Team development is really about process. How are we going to work together to achieve the priorities we’ve identified in our strategic plan? How do we want to be together to live our mission, vision and values? Alignment between all these elements is the differentiating factor for organizations to flourish since a plan is only as good as the team’s ability to execute it.
In formal mentoring programs, training for the participants is critical to the success of the mentoring partnership. Mentoring is an intimate learning relationship that requires intentionality to make it work. Too often I hear about programs that weren’t successful and have resulted in formal mentoring programs getting a bad rap. There are many benefits to formal mentoring programs however achieving the desired objectives of the program doesn’t happen by accident. In addition to a thoughtfully crafted matching process, training for the mentoring partners is critical.
The three primary objectives of mentoring training are More »
I was delighted to lead a workshop on “Diversity and Inclusion on Teams” for a class of engineering students at the University of Toronto last week. As part of the university’s Leaders of Tomorrow program, students can obtain a certificate in Team Skills.
Engineering. Leadership. Team Skills. Diversity and Inclusion. How remarkable! All these critical competencies offered in one program. More »